Only the semifinal winners of the 2000 CONCACAF Championship earn the berth to the next world championship that will take place in Guatemala (Nov. 18 - Dec. 3) and for the first time the USA will not be one of the 16 teams at the competition.
"I'm very disappointed that we lost," said Head Coach Keith Tozer. "We have worked three-years for the opportunity to once again go to the world championships, but unfortunately it wasn't our night. This is just something that you have to put behind you and continue to go forward."
The USA got on the board early with a goal by forward Matt Tirschman (Milwaukee Wave - NPSL) off a freekick by defender Sean Bowers (Detroit Rockers - NPSL) just outside the penalty area in the 7th minute.
Cuba leveled the score two minutes later when Ernesto Diaz fired a low off-balance shot past U.S. Goalkeeper Victor Nogueira (Milwaukee Wave - NPSL).
The Cuban offensive surge continued as the Caribbeans jumped out to a 3-1 lead with back-to-back tallies within a two-minute span.
Forward Camilo Kindelan gave Cuba the lead in the 12th minute when he tallied a goal off a left-side cross from forward Juan Portal for the 2-1 score. Two minutes later, forward Lazaro Martinez headed home the third Cuban goal off a pass from Kindelan for the 3-1 advantage.
The Americans pressured the Caribbeans the rest of the half but went into the locker rooms down by two goals.
In the second half, the U.S. got a break with a penalty kick opportunity in the 22nd minute after Tirschman was fouled inside the Cuban area. After a two-minute delay due to the ejections of the Cuban Head Coach Clemente Reinoso and the Head of Delegation, Bowers took the penalty kick but his shot was saved by the goalkeeper Pedro Lopez.
The USA continued to pressure the Cuban defense by sending players forward, but were burned off the counter attack as 'keeper Nogueria had to make several key saves to keep the score at 3-1.
The pressure finally paid off as forward Wes Wade (Kansas Ciity Attack - NPSL) notched the U.S. second goal off a freekick by Tirschman in the 33rd minute for a 3-2 score.
In the 37th minute, the Americans pulled Keeper Nogueria out of the game and added a fifth-attacker (Bowers) in search of the equalizer, but Cuba took advantage of a bad pass by the U.S. defense as Martinez notched an empty-netter a minute later for the 4-2 final score.
The loss snaps the U.S. five-game international unbeaten streak and is the USA's first defeat against a CONCACAF opponent since September 3, 1996 against Cuba 5-3.
"Winning and losing are part of the game," said Alex Para, U.S. Futsal Federation President/Head of Delegation. "It is unfortunate that our first loss in two international tournaments came during this semifinal game and prevented us from qualifying to our fourth consecutive world championship. This is a learning experience that will help our National Futsal program grow."
In the second semifinal game, the host Costa Rica defeated Mexico 3-2 and also clinched a spot at the world championships.
The U.S. will now meet Mexico in the third-place match on Saturday night, while Cuba will take on Costa Rica in the championship finale.
Futsal is a sport derivative of soccer and played with five-man teams on a basketball style court, with no walls and a low bouncing ball. Great soccer superstars such as Pele, Zico and Socrates grew up playing the game and credit Futsal with developing their skills.
2000 U.S. FUTSAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||United States Futsal Team vs. Cuba Futsal Team|
|Competition:||2000 CONCACAF Championship - Semifinal|
|Venue:||Palacio de los Deportes (Heredia, Costa Rica|
|Date:||July 27, 2000 - kickoff 7 p.m. local (MT)|
USA - Matt Tirschman, (Sean Bowers), 7,
CUB - Ernesto Diaz, (Boris Saname), 9,
CUB - Camilo Kindelan, (Juan Portal), 12,
CUB - Lazaro Martinez, (Kindelan), 14,
USA - Wes Wade, (Tirschman), 33,
CUB - Martinez (Unassisted), 38.
USA - GK-Victor Nogueria, D-Sean Bowers (Capt.), D-Jeff Davis, F-Matt Tirschman, F-Lee Tschantret; Subs - D-Glenn Carbonara, D-Josh Timbers, F-Bernie Lilavois, F-Temoc Suarez, F-Wes Wade, F-Brian Loftin
CUB - GK-Pedro Lopez; D-Adalberto Guerra, F-Juan Portal (Capt.), F-Camilo Kindelan, F- Boris Saname; Subs - D-Ernesto Duane, F-Ernesto Diaz, F-Lazaro Martinez
|Head Coach (ejection)||22,|
|Head of Delegation (ejection)||22,|
|2000 CONCACAF Championship (Heredia, Costa Rica)|
|Costa Rica*||3||3||0||0||19||6||9 (+13 GD)|
|Cuba*||3||2||1||0||24||10||6 (+14 GD)|
|Surinam||3||1||2||0||18||22||3 (-4 GD)|
|Nicaragua||3||0||3||0||7||30||0 (-23 GD)|
|2000 CONCACAF Championship (Heredia, Costa Rica)|
|United States*||3||3||0||0||15||2||9 (+13 GD)|
|Mexico*||3||2||1||0||10||6||6 (+4 GD)|
|Neth. Antilles||3||1||2||0||5||11||3 (-6 GD)|
|Puerto Rico||3||0||3||0||2||13||0 (-11 GD)|
* Advances to Semifinals
July 20 Cuba 13, Surinam 4
July 21 Mexico 4, Netherlands Antilles 1
July 22 Cuba 9, Nicaragua 2
July 23 Mexico 4, Puerto Rico 2
July 24 Surinam 11, Nicaragua 4
July 25 Netherlands Antilles 4, Puerto Rico 0
July 27 Cuba 4, USA 2
|July 29||USA vs. Mexico|
(Third Place Match)
|July 29||Costa Rica vs. Cuba|
|^ Both finalists (Costa Rica & Cuba) advance to 2000 FIFA World Championship in Guatemala (November 18 - December 3).|